With cycling adventures put on hold I’ve lost things to write about, but with music playing throughout the house more as I try and fill my days, I’ve created the Musicians on Lockdown series. A series of interviews asking musicians how they’re finding lockdown.
We’re kicking off with British band, The Howl and the Hum. Led by singer/songwriter, Sam Griffiths, the band is made up of Bassist Bradley Blackwell, Drummer Jack Williams and Guitarist Conor Hirons. With their debut album aptly named, Human Contact, released today I’m going to find out how they got to this point.
The early days of The Howl and the Hum started at the York Open Mic scene, where Sam would go on to meet his band mates. How did you all meet?
Conor and Jack were in a legendary York band, Littlemores – Conor was the frontman, but I hope he doesn’t feel he’s been demoted since then. We met at York’s open mic nights, Conor and I would compliment each others songs (casual flirting) and Brad’s bass playing skills (less casual flirting) while Jack toured Australia (not a euphemism). When Jack came back we put a bag on his head and forced him to play drums for us – that was in about 2017, when we were tiny little dumb babies. Now we’re massive strong men.
Despite only now releasing their debut album, they’ve already done a headline tour, but not as you’d expect. Instead of heading straight to London or a UK Tour, they toured the Scottish Highlands in a van they called ‘The Beast’. What was touring the Scottish Highlands like?
The Highlands is one of our favourite places to play – for some reason we get a good crowd on the Orkney Isles. We’d love to include the highlands in every tour. We were lucky enough to explore most of the towns we were playing in, even if it was just a pub dinner or early breakfast in a remote BnB but they were some of the most beautiful drives we’ve ever been on. On this drive, we were overtaken by a boy racer who was the inspiration for our song The Only Boy Racer Left on the Island. We tried to make the song as picturesque as its setting.
Van life is basically farts and wee stops, but we wouldn’t trade it in for anything. Except The Beast, who has now died.
Travelling is something that’s limited right now, but where has the band taken you all so far? Is every country you perform in a different experience?
We played at SXSW in Austin in 2019 which was incredible, we’d love to go back to America, preferably in a van, and play for as long as possible. Australia would be amazing, and our drummer is so obsessed with his year down under that his Google Maps voice is always Australian.
Any show can be deadly, so we don’t have a particular favourite, but I think one of our favourite ever performances was at Lowlands festival in the Netherlands last summer. It definitely feels like a different experience wherever we go, but not in a disconcerting way – we’re very grateful that everyone speaks English far better than we can.
Come 2018 they were performing at festivals such as Latitude and The Great Escape. What was it like progressing from intimate open mic nights to performing at festivals?
I guess you’ve got to treat every gig the same, whether it’s playing The Habit on a Wednesday night to one man, or in front of thousands at a festival, but sometimes it can be a little overwhelming. I definitely freaked out when we played at Citadel Festival in London and we were all about 20 feet away from each other – we’re used to being able to tell what we had for breakfast.
We’d love to play Glastonbury. One day…
Recorded in 2019, their debut album, Human Contact, could become the album that encapsulates Covid-19 into an album. The idea that millennials are lonely only further highlighted by the current situation. That we’d rather contact each other over the Internet rather than face-to-face. What’s the key message behind this album? Do you feel fans might see your songs differently than you initially expected with the current situation?
The key theme is definitely about loneliness in a digital age, and I think that’s escalated since lockdown began, but there are also outlets to reduce loneliness – we now rely on Zoom and Whatsapp to reach out, and burst the bubble that can build around us. I hope people are able to relate to this album in whatever way they can.
With many albums and tours getting delayed, The Howl and the Hum are also releasing the tickets for their 2021 UK Tour.
We can’t wait for gigs to come back, I just think they’re gonna be nuts. Explosions, live sacrifices, fire-breathers, acrobatics, all of it. It’s difficult to choose, but I guess the Brudenell Social Club is the reason I moved to Leeds, and the Crescent in York was our first headline so those venues would feel like hometown shows.
People use music in different ways. Some might use it as motivation in a workout, or others may simply just sit and listen to it. I often warm-up for a cycling race with my headphones in. Do you ever think how people might listen to your music and what for?
I’m always surprised by what people do while listening to our music, because I write it from such a meditative, personal place, but I’m glad people can get their kicks from it. We’d love, eventually, for people to boogie at our shows, but people seem a little apprehensive. As soon as lockdown ends, I think people are gonna wanna shake their money makers a little more.
Quick Fire Questions
- If you could have any pet you liked, what would it be?
- Your go-to drink after performing a gig?
- What you miss most due to Lockdown?
GOLDEN RETRIEVERS AND GUINNESS
Make sure to head to their website to order their new albums, or book your first gig tickets for 2021.